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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: July 2019

Part III - The Canadian Context

  • Edited by Thomas Ricento, University of Calgary
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • pp 211-315


Despite surface-level changes to the Heritage Languages Program in Ontario, heritage language instruction continues to exist at the margins of school life in Ontario. Public deliberations over this policy have led to intense, racialized conflict among stakeholders. At their most fundamental level, these conflicts have centred on who has – or should have – the power (or the “right”) to determine linguistic and cultural practices within publicly funded schools. To address this question, the chapter builds on my previous work sketching out a political-economy perspective on language policy analysis. Most salient is this theory’s insight that, while capitalism relies on human labour to create all profit and value, it has no internal system for reproducing that labour in the first place. I situate language socialization within this contradiction. When speakers of minoritized and/or racialized languages make demands for access to their languages in the public sphere (be it at work, at school, etc.) they directly challenge this separation between production and social reproduction. Understanding this contradiction moves us beyond searching for better metaphors for framing language policy, and towards concrete political strategies for undermining language-based oppression.